Investigating the lived experience of an after-school Minecraft club

BAILEY, Chris J (2017). Investigating the lived experience of an after-school Minecraft club. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This qualitative study seeks to explore and illuminate the lived experience of a group of ten and eleven year-old children, playing in and around the popular multiplayer, sandbox videogame, Minecraft, during a year-long after-school club. Drawing on the work of Deleuze and Guattari (1987) the research employs a playful and emergent methodology, referred to as ‘rhizomic ethnography’, which provides a suite of approaches as a means of exploring the complexity of the social world. This poststructuralist study also builds upon existing research around play, New Literacy Studies, new literacies, space and place, multimodality, multiliteracies and virtual worlds. The accounts that constitute this thesis draw from a pool of rich and varied data, generated using a number of participatory and visual methods, including child-produced video, audio, screencasts, photography, fieldnotes and virtual model-making discussion sessions. In response to this data, this thesis takes a novel approach to representation, drawing on a range of modes. This results in a hybrid text that includes comic strips, illustration and audio, as a means of transcribing and representing the complexity that is the children’s lived experience. Using different selections of data, I investigate the lived experience from three alternative but interconnected perspectives, employing the Deleuzian trope of the plateau. Firstly, I examine how the children’s play worked across the on and off-screen spaces in this complex hybrid site. With a particular focus on the children’s construction of the virtual community that they named ‘Banterbury’, I demonstrate how the game itself shaped the club. Secondly, I show how the children’s interactions regularly drew on aspects of their lives outside of the club, revealing the club as a social site of play, driven by a range of resources from children’s everyday experiences and wider culture. Thirdly, through a focus on the club’s soundscape, I reveal how the children’s play often had a mischievous and exuberant quality. Finally, reading across, between and beyond these three plateaus, I conclude by examining how the lived experience of the club was characterised by an emergent playfulness. Therefore, as well as contributing to the existing literature on virtual world play and demonstrating methodological potential for application in other contexts, this thesis also offers new insights into what constitutes the emergent dimension of play. This has implications for how we consider the kind of opportunities provided for children to interact and drive their own play experiences, with or without technology.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Burnett, Cathy [0000-0001-6087-244X]
Thesis advisor - Merchant, Guy [0000-0001-8436-7675]
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2017 10:47
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:06

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